In what could virtually force medical aspirants to appear for multiple entrance examinations, the SC in an interim order on Thursday allowed all states, medical colleges and universities to conduct separate entrance tests for admission to medical courses for the coming academic year. However, results can be announced only after further orders.
These tests would be independent of the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET), which was introduced after much deliberation as single entrance examination for admission to all medical colleges and universities in the country.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice SS Nijar and Justice J Chelameswar passed the interim orders while hearing multiple petitions opposing the NEET. The bench then said it would conduct final hearing on January 15, 16 and 17 and directed the counsel to file their written submissions by January 7.
While states like Tamil Nadu have already opposed the NEET and have been permitted to admit students to undergraduate medical programmes without an entrance test, nearly 95,000 candidates have already taken the NEET this year hoping that it will be a gateway for MBBS admissions. Incidentally even in states that have decided not to admit students on the basis of the NEET scores, hundreds of candidates had taken the NEET hoping to join medical colleges in other regions.
Appearing for Karnataka Private Medical and Dental Colleges Association and a few medical colleges from Tamil Nadu, senior advocate K K Venugopal suggested that it would not be fair to hold single test for admitting students to any medical college in the country. Opposing the NEET, counsel for Tamil Nadu K Parasaran said the structure of the examination goes against the principle of federalism. Counsel L Nageshwar Rao pointed out that Tamil Nadu had abolished entrance examinations by legislation and the same had received Presidential assent.
However, Medical Council of India counsel Nidhesh Gupta said: “The NEET cannot be wished away. Post the matter in January, I will answer each issue. The estimate is that 8-10 lakh candidates would register for the NEET.”
Chief Justice questioned what would happen to the 98,000 candidates who had already taken the NEET. “What about them? Not a small number,” he said the bench would have to consider the merits of the case before abolishing the NEET.